The Founding of Justice
Justice Inc. was founded in Indianapolis in 1980. Initially without a headquarters, the first several leaders of the organization lived on the near eastside of Indianapolis. The founding of Justice Inc. was a pivotal moment for the Indianapolis LGBT+ community as people began to work more publicly for LGBT+ recognition, acceptance, and rights in the city.
When Justice Inc. was founded, public pride events were scarce throughout the nation. The first official pride event had taken place in New York City's Greenwich Village in 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Raid. Ten thousand protestors attended in response to the violence and injustices they had endured. In 1979, a massive march in Washington, D.C. for Gay and Lesbian Rights inspired local communities to establish LGBT+ rights organizations, including Justice Inc. The first pride celebration in Indiana happened in 1990, organized by Justice Inc. This organization worked for the local LGBT+ communities until the organization merged with the Indiana Equality Coalition and Indy Pride in the mid-2000s.
Seeking Justice for Indy
Justice Inc. led the fight for equality in education, law, and healthcare for LGBT+ citizens of Indianapolis. The group worked to identify LGBT+ friendly organizations, promote LGBT+ businesses, and provide support for LGBT+ communities. Early in the fight for rights, the organization voiced their concerns with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission about violence, discrimination, and other issues negatively impacting LGBT+ citizens. Justice Inc. worked to protect and promote pride, health, and community.
Marks of Progress and Telling the Story
Through the work of organizations like Justice Inc., many U.S. cities have transformed into inclusive and diverse spaces, receptive to the LGBT+ community. In 2014, Indianapolis scored 82/100 – well above the national average of 59 – in the annual Municipality Equality Index, a study conducted by the Human Rights Campaign to measure LGBT+ equality around the country. The study also highlighted areas of improvement, such as providing transgender-inclusive health benefits and hiring a mayor’s liaison focused on LGBT+ issues.
Little has been written about Justice Inc.’s contributions and history. This is common for much of LGBT+ history throughout the nation. This “LGBT+ History in Indianapolis Tour” hopes to generate more awareness about the work of justice organizations in the past and present.